New York State Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow Reintroduces Online Poker Bill

Posted on January 25th, 2016 by Alana Markoff

J. Gary Pretlow New York online poker

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is going after daily fantasy sports and will likely oppose an online poker bill by Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow. (Image: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

J. Gary Pretlow (D-District 89) thinks New Yorkers should be able to play poker online. Last week, the tenured politician reinstated A9049, a bill that calls for “certain interactive poker games that are considered to be games of skill rather than games of luck.”

It marks the third consecutive year that Pretlow has pushed iPoker on his fellow lawmakers in Albany.

“This bill will require such operators to take steps to protect consumers, combat compulsive gaming, and prevent minors from accessing online gaming sites,” Pretlow said. “In addition, this legislation would create additional revenue for the State of New York by clearly defining certain variants of poker, ‘Omaha Hold’em’ and Texas ‘Hold’em,’ as games of skill and thus allowing licensed interactive gaming operators to offer these games to the public.”

Each 10-year license would cost $10 million and operators would be taxed 15 percent based on their gross earnings. With nearly 20 million residents, Pretlow is correct in declaring that the state stands to reap an abundance of financial benefits should the legislation eventually become law.

Long Time Not Coming

Pretlow’s three-year mission to authorize Internet poker won’t likely come to conclusion anytime in the near future. That’s because of daily fantasy sports (DFS) impeding the conversation regarding online gaming.

DraftKings and New York City-based FanDuel are currently involved in a legal battle with state officials. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wants both companies to stop operating in the Empire State as he feels DFS is illegal online gambling.

The two DFS power players were ordered by Schneiderman to cease their services last fall, but were later granted a temporary stay by the New York State Court of Appeals as they make their case against the attorney general. The case is expected to endure throughout much of 2016, which is why Pretlow gaining support and momentum for iPoker might be a tall task in the months ahead.

Los Angeles Times Backs iGambling

Another key jurisdiction considering online poker is California, the nation’s most populated state with 39 million residents. However, the market faces several tricky hurdles in California with native tribes, the horse racing industry, and Sacramento policymakers struggling to reach a middle ground that is supported by all parties.

Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board published an op-ed calling for the legalization of not only daily fantasy sports, but all online gaming. “California lawmakers have been trying for years to create this sort of framework for online poker, only to be thwarted by internecine battles among the state’s licensed gaming businesses,” the Times wrote.

“The argument for setting up a safer environment for fantasy sports games applies in spades to online poker. It’s time for the Legislature to stand up to the competing gambling interest groups and adopt safeguards that apply across the online gaming boards,” the column concluded.

With iPoker bills in New York, California, and Pennsylvania, three states that when combined represent nearly one in four Americans, the market could exponentially expand in 2016 should any or all finally legalize the card game online.

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